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Archive for the ‘Carpe Diem’ Category

Every weekend the WSJ publishes a few obituaries–people who were notable for something or other–not the most extraordinary colossi bestriding our narrow world, but shining like stars all the same.

Peter Huber, dead at 68; “by 23, he had a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and was teaching thermodynamics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. To keep his mind sufficiently occupied, he enrolled at Harvard Law School and shuttled by moped between teaching classes at MIT and taking them at Harvard.He juggled those tasks well enough to graduate summa cum laude from Harvard in 1982, at the top of his class, and had clerkships with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, then an appeals court judge, and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.”
He wrote books, worked at one of the premier law firms, was a brilliant man.

Michele Evans, dead at 55, led the Lockheed Martin aeronautics arm–30,000 employees, $25 billion in annual sales.

Benjamin de Rothschild, dead at 57, was immensely rich, the descendant of an ancient family– he despised politics, but did the work required by his position.

These people were all younger than I am now when they died. Reminding me to rejoice that I am still alive, still on this floating world.

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I have spent the last few days reading through old  messages–this blog is becoming venerable, has passed her 11th year, is moving on to her DOZEN! These messages are stored on WordPress, and reading them was to parade through those years, smiling at joys long past, wiping away the occasional tear.
The first message was an unmemorable complaint about moving from Word 2003 to 2007, but next there was a message about, well, starting the blog.

June has busted out all over

June 11, 2009 by hopehare

Hitting an idle patch, it seems an excellent moment to launch a blog. The gray and drear days of early June (which should be brilliant and sunny, but there, man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards) can not dim the intense human desire to CHAT. To NATTER. To tell other people just what I am thinking about now. Which is: what kind of cake should I make to best express the sorrow at parting from old friends, to embellish the table at a goodbye party next month. I am thinking the cake could be decorated to look like a map of the country, with a ribbon path connecting the east and west coasts, indicating the Affection that Can Endure the Parting. Only, my experience is that pictures in frosting so seldom come up to my vision of how it should be.

And from then on, message after message, about the wickedness of the bus drivers and heinous weather endured stoically standing at the bus stop–and then there was the complete horror of public health meetings. Lordie! I had forgotten how very ghastly those meetings were. Come to think on it, I’ve forgotten meetings altogether–remember those days, we used to gather together, many people clustering together in one room. Breathing one another’s breath! Makes my blood run cold! SO unlike our decorous Zoom meetings of today.

So, I raise a glass to us! And thank you, dear friends, for continuing to listen and respond!

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I had a whim to find out about building a screened porch, and so requested a visit from a builder who excelled in such things.
NOT, mind, that I have any thoughts of equaling the majestic splendor of the screened porch I had in my previous house, WHAT a porch that was.
No, just a modest place to sit outside protected from horrid mosquitoes. Particularly since invitations to come sit on my patio have been twice rebuffed by friends who both mentioned BUGS as the reason.
So yesterday Anthony the builder came. We discussed the screened porch idea, and he will send me his estimate.
Afterwards we chatted a bit about this and that, and, smiling at my cat Bertie sprawled on the patio, he started telling me about his dog, Rocky. Rocky’s mother was a rescue dog, who could pull a 250 pound person from the water to land. When Anthony was visiting the fire station where the puppies had been born, the guys offered one of the pups to him–but no, he said, his wife had a NO PETS rule.

And went off to his truck. And the puppy trotted after him. So, he picked the little fellow up and took him back to the guys. And went off again–and again the puppy followed him. And he gave up, and took the puppy to his office, made him a bed there, picked him up every morning and dropped him off every night. One day he was doing some work at a house where his wife was also working–she cleaned houses. There were a couple dogs there, who knew him well, but instead of greeting him, they rushed out to the truck to greet Rocky. The wife, suspicious, asked who was in the truck–and so she met Rocky. And Rocky came to stay with the family. And was the best dog ever, riding with Anthony in the truck every day, allowing the wife to dress him up for Christmas, and playing with the children. And when he was 15 years old, he fell ill and died.
And Anthony said he would never never get another dog, the heartbreak was so devastating.
But how can anyone look into the face of a hopeful new creature–a puppy, a kitten–and say, go away and love someone else, little one; I am so afraid of your death in 15 years that I dare not love you now.

It seems so cowardly.
Though Bertie is 17 and his day is coming closer, and I dread it, shed tears thinking about it–yet, how grateful I am for the times we’ve had. I wouldn’t trade a minute of them.

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I was reading a book by that droll farceur Bill Bryson last night at dinner, and suddenly found myself guffawing loudly at one of his buffoonish descriptions. SUCH SILLY! I wiped my eyes and turned to see all three cats regarding me with alarm–“Gracious, WHAT on earth is she doing?”

I reassured them that I was only laughing, not dying.

It had been a hiking disaster, during which he plummeted downhill, pausing only to test the flexibility of certain tree trunks on his way down. NOT so funny at the time, I expect.
Yesterday was a rather grim gray day, raining and bleak, and not much accomplished. But that moment of bright happy merriment lit it up like a star–so thank you Mr. Bryson!

It made me think of that mawkish poem that Dad–and my dear husband–would quote every once in a while.

Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets in your list, put that in.
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.

Yes, I know, easy to make fun of. Yes, sentimental.
But don’t you relish that moment with him? That shining star of a day when Jenny kissed him.

So cheer up, dear friends! All is not lost.
And to quote Mr. Bryson, “you are alive. For the tiniest moment in the span of eternity you have the miraculous privilege to exist.”

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Yesterday was such a beautiful day–I walked my 2 miles, came home and fed the cats and then went to sit on the steps with my glass of wine. I watched my neighbors promenade–many of them regarding my cherry tree with great admiration (please note that I make this observation without unseemly pride but rather a respect for truth) and while the sun shone and the birds sang I thought, what a good world this is.
And then the sun went down and I had to make my dinner and I remembered that in fact things are not so great these days.
But possibly because I am an idiot, or because I was brought up happy, or because of who knows what, I can’t believe that things won’t work out somehow.
In the sci-fi series I am listening to, some villains drop huge boulders onto the earth, killing billions, and almost killing the earth. But, the earth doesn’t die. People manage, people learn, people keep living and somehow–the earth doesn’t die.
Yes, I know that no one lives forever, and people’s lives are cut short, people who should have lived–but here we are. Not dead yet!
So, well done us!

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Just as I exulted over the triumph of finally getting a new phone–NOT an easy task, comrades, and certainly not a cheap one–I have been struck down with ghastly back ache. The kind that makes you walk VERY carefully and say ouch when arising from chair. You don’t even have to type in “pain” when you start searching on “lower back”. Everybody has it, everybody longs for a magical cure.

I have had this before, but when I was younger I was outraged, questioned doctors, demanded that I be set back to normal.
Now that I am old I think, maybe this is just the way things are. And though past experience leads me to hope that it will diminish if not completely disappear eventually, I have no great expectation of ease.

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On Getting Old

I have had cause to note that along with the gradual deterioration of the body, aging also diminishes the brain. Ever alert to the onset of senility, I am horrified at each word forgotten, each digression from the path.
So imagine my dismay as I gaily sang to the cats that Chicks and Ducks and Geese better scurry, when I take you out in the….CURRY? SLURRY? BLURRY? I simply could not remember the name of the vehicle with the fringe on the top. Google of course instantly supplied it, namely: SURREY. Which I stared at, thinking, what on earth is a surrey. Well, it is a “popular American doorless, four-wheeled carriage of the late 19th and early 20th century.”

As long as I can still manage to look up answers to these significant questions, I guess I can manage to avert collapse.
But I shall NEVER give in to Gmail’s sly hinting of responses to emails. Or at least. I hope I shall never give in.
Should you spot an email from me briefly announcing,” Cute!” or “That’s great news! ” just assume my next communication will be from the nursing home.

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Lessons learned

I was going to give this hard earned advice to my daughters, and then thought, wait, the lads need to know this as well, and then I thought, wait, what about my sister and sisters-in law, and brothers, and –well, well, why not all my friends too.
So listen well, dear fellow human beings. Time beats against us all, and we gradually are losing the battle. But never give up the fight! Keep your joints flexible, your muscles limber, your brain entertained! And, keep your skin lubricated!
I’m sure you moisturize your face (if you don’t, please start now) but also, rub that stuff onto your fingernails and your toes. And all the rest if you have the time and energy. But keeping your toes from drying out will help prevent or at least reduce all kinds of nasty ailments, including ingrown toenails and corns.
And, not a bad idea to find a good podiatrist.

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Oldness

Dear friends, I have passed the human sell-by date, and am now completely aged. Sunday was my SEVENTIETH birthday.
In my 60’s I was able to feel as one of the madding throng–for instance, Google didn’t automatically cut me off when I entered my birth date on their little polls, at least not always–but now–! Well, well, who wants to hear what kind of coffin I am shopping for.
However, it was a grand birthday weekend! Family and friends rallied round, and my grandson was particularly winsome. Flowers, chocolate, wine, all came flowing in the door! My younger son gave me a set of antique postcards, each not only carefully addressed to one of my 5 children, but STAMPED too. That boy is a wonder.

Every year from now on is a blessing. Extra, don’t you know. You will say, but HOPE–70 is the new 60! But somehow I feel sure that 70 is 70.

So, I shall try to treat each new day as the miraculous gift it is–listen to the birds in the morning, and watch the leaves growing on the trees, and remember as much as I can of the years that came before, and enjoy as much as I can of the years to come.
Precious time, each day running by so swiftly.

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Today the kindly bus driver greeted me and said he’d missed me yesterday–I said I had been ill, and thanked him. A courteous gesture, pleasing to the person who lives alone–I honor his thoughtfulness!
Yesterday was NOT a good day, my insides were behaving badly and my mind could not rest what with all the turmoil. This interesting session started at 3 in the morning and ended promptly at 8. I had a cup of tea and then worked from home, Bertie on my lap for much of the time. Cats LOVE it when I am unwell.
Today I read a story in the paper about a family cursed with a genealogical flaw that predisposes them to stomach cancer. Now that they know, and can be tested for the gene, some of them are electing to–HAVE THEIR STOMACHS REMOVED. How do they eat, you ask? With difficulty.
But at least they’re alive, you see. Things could always be worse. Always.

Chin UP little buddy!

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